15 July 2009

Trial Notes, Day 3 am

Just some quick notes before I need to head to work for the day:

Prior to the start of the day's proceedings, Judge Walsh addressed the gallery to express his displeasure with a melee that occurred yesterday. He said that the event was a disgrace to the life and legacy of the victim (using her birth name), who was 'a peaceful man.'

In testimony from Erica Allison (I'm unsure about the spelling of her last name), one of the prosecuting attorneys asked her about Lateisha Green's sexuality (using her birth name). Ms. Allison replied that 'he was a female.' The prosecutor then attempted to clarify this statement by asking 'so, he was a man dressed as a woman?' Ms. Allison answered yes. An identical exchange occurred with respect to Star, a trans woman who was in the car seated behind Mark Cannon and Lateisha Green.

During cross-examination, the defense asked Ms. Allison if Green was 'dressed as female' the night of the 14th. Ms. Allison responded in the negative, stating that Green (using her birth name) was wearing a t-shirt, pants, and a head scarf and that his[sic] hair was not done up nice as it often was.

Personally, I'm upset to see the Judge erase Lateisha Green's identity. This morning's comments were part of a continuing pattern that I've seen from the prosecuting and defense attorneys, as well as witnesses. My blood pressure spikes at the term "man dressed as a woman", particularly in this context. I understand that transgender and gender non-conforming individuals have diverse ways of vocalizing their identities, and as I've previously noted, I never met Lateisha Green. However, I find these exchanges deeply troubling. Lastly, I'm upset about what I see as a trend within the trial that mirrors society's double standard with respect to trans women and clothing. As other folks have repeatedly elaborated, a shirt and pants is standard dress for many, many women. Expecting trans women to dress in erotic, flashy or "flamboyant" manners, confounding trans identities with homosexual ones, and confounding these identities with offensive stereotypes of gay males is, well, offensive.

I need to run, and won't be at the trial again until tomorrow. I assume TLDEF will post a thorough summary of the proceedings tonight.


  1. I think the prosecution could, and should, have filed a motion pretrial regarding the appropriate way to refer to Teish at trial. Many times, victims and witnesses are referred to by names other than their birth names, e.g., "nicknames." Plus the ethical rules for attorneys in many states prohibit them from displaying bias, including bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity. By erasing Teish's identity, all the attorney's in the courtroom, including the judge, may be violating those rules. The only way to find out is for someone to file a bar complaint, which would start an investigation.

  2. Abby, I'd add that lawyers and witnesses have frequently used commonly accepted nicknames in reference to people who were present on the 14th. There have been obvious efforts to clarify things by linking these nicknames to "real" names. That said, Lateisha Green stands out to me as one of the few people involved in the events whom people almost exclusively refer to by birth name.

  3. Abby, I think there three components to this:

    1) The general transphobic/trans-ignorant nature of the county court system.
    2) How DeLee perceived Teish and to many trans=gay (lest we judge, lots of people in the LGB community feel this way as well...!)
    3) Teish's own identity and gender expression of that identity.
    It is hard to sort out how the sexual orientation hate crime application in this instance is affecting the way Teish is viewed in the courtroom. There might have been much the same issue without the hate crime amendment. I personally do believe what we're seeing is how a hate crime statute applied to the 'perceived' orientation/gender of the victim is conflicting with that victim's actual identity/gender expression. It's being said DeLee thought she was a gay man. Well, okay, but that isn't who she was and why does that need to be perpetuated in court after mentioning it? As any transperson can tell you, there are a lot of 'well-intentioned' people in one's life who attempt to explain who you and your are and honor your identity/expression yet don't get it even vaguely right.

    And yes, I've agreed with Kate's statement about 'wearing men's clothes the night of the murder' from the get go when I first read about it back in November. This is basically stating, she wasn't dressed the way we 'know' black trannies dress (i.e. like hookers). Therefore, they get to decide how she was presenting her womanhood.

    FYI, I've read every conceivable scrap of info about this case from day one and spoken to Teish's aunt. Teish identified as a transsexual woman. She knew she had a long way to go in her transition, but she had no questions about who she was.